Phone privacy and relationships


How social media has impacted the idea of phone and personal privacy

The 1960s Princess phone, designed to attract women users.
The 1960s Princess phone, designed to attract women users.

How many times have you heard, "If he/she loved me, they'd tell me everything about their former partners," or "He/she wouldn't be friends with a former boy/girlfriend because it makes me uncomfortable."?

It crops up on GAG often. And more often than not it's because a partner has ALREADY gotten into a partner's phone and found pictures or messages they shouldn't have read, and/or they can't interpret, or they CAN interpret as indicating their partner is practicing infidelity.

OK, it WOULD be better to know if a partner was cheating behind one's back. But this isn't occurring in most cases. One woman said she wanted to "find out" what the caliber of her partner's relationship was with a co-worker. Simply because the man spoke to her about conversations or interactions with the co-worker.

When a partner finds out private info on a SO, theres usually surprises.
When a partner finds out private info on a SO, there's usually surprises.

There was no reason for this woman to question her partner's relationship status with his co-worker except for her jealousy, distrust and suspicious nature. And this is 95% of the reasons SOs dig into partners' phone messages and photos.

In another case, a woman found risque' photos her partner had kept of an old girlfriend. She was incensed. What was he keeping them for? How about some sexy memories of a time past? Was he comparing that woman to her? Oh grow up!

The IPhone 12,000. Ahem, the 14.
The IPhone 12,000. Ahem, the 14.

Cell phones were developed for portability and for privacy, initially. Unfortunately, we've also lost THAT advantage. Remember when, or maybe you're too young to even remember that... when random people called your home phone trying to sell insurance, solicit donations for a plethora of agencies and all manner of annoyances? Well, when cells first came out, no one had nor could access those numbers. They weren't listed in phone books, yes books, nor on the internet. But as people used cell phones as their only phone, and those who HAD their numbers SOLD that information to other sellers to make MORE MONEY, even those private numbers became more public.

So now, even cell phones are as regularly called by solicitors as old landline phones were.

But I digress. What expectation of privacy should anyone have in modern life in their relationships?

Well, listening in on anyone's conversation has always been considered gauche and impolite. And if someone tells you they aren't going to discuss an aspect of their life with you, you need to accept that and drop it. It doesn't matter if it's an old girl or boyfriend, or former marriage. You aren't owed an explanation of someone's past that they don't prefer to give. Some people are more private than others. Some are open books.

Personally, I don't care or need to know everything about a person. I like to know interesting aspects: where someone's traveled, what education or jobs they've had, whether they like certain music or art, what are their hobbies. And it's good to know if someone likes to gamble or pay their bills. These are important facts about a person that give you an idea of their personality and VALUES.

But beyond this essentially private information, who they've been with, how long, where and why, why they broke up? Other than a sentence or paragraph or two, how many details are necessary? And if the details don't satisfy you, whose fault is this? Certainly, not your partner's.

The green-eyed monster.
The green-eyed monster.

Unfortunately, there is no amount of information that a partner can supply to a jealous, distrustful, suspicious SO that will satisfy them of a partner's potential fidelity.

It's understandable that a damaging past partner may have tainted this person's outlook on relationships, but this isn't excuse enough to raid a person's phone, read messages and root through photos.

My semi-personal experience with this was through my son's actions toward a girlfriend he'd known a month or so. He looked through her phone messages, questioned her about some and she broke up with him. I told him she was right and was shocked he did what he did.

"It was none of your business if she was flirting with someone else, spoke to someone else or that that person was messaging her. What's wrong with you?" I asked.

He tried to pass it off as innocent. Snooping is NEVER innocent unless you're dealing with a child who needs guidance. No adult needs to be told how they should behave. That goes for those struggling with addictions of any kind. People are in charge of themselves. If you can't or don't trust this SO, then you need to get out of that relationship and examine yourself.

It's true, some people aren't trustworthy. But if you keep looking for bad behavior, I guarantee, you'll find it.

Leave other people's phones alone and their personal information personal. Don't press about information YOU want that they don't want to give. If it bothers you that much, this is YOUR problem, not the person you're demanding information from.

There are some people who have no need for privacy and perhaps you can find one to be a partner with you. But for most folks, an interior life is just that: something that is not shared with others for whatever reason. They might keep a few old photos or a few friends who were lovers. None of this is a threat to a current relationship.

In the long run, jealousy and suspicion are factors in people with low self-esteem. If you have a healthy ego, you aren't threatened by friends or relationships your partner has or has had, because every relationship enriches your partner's life. When you see other people in their lives as gifts, you'll have risen to a new plane of existence.

And you'll leave that phone alone.

Never any need for a "party line."
Never any need for a "party line."
Phone privacy and relationships
14 Opinion